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Putting the question ‘Which is best?’ to the test

November 2002
Raymond D. Aller, MD

The November, 2002, Survey may be located here.

People often ask me, "What is the best LIS on the market?" and they become distressed when I don’t give them a straight answer. This is not out of petulance but perspective.

Rather than asking which one is the best, you should develop a thorough understanding of the challenges faced by your laboratory and determine which of those challenges are not being met by your current information-processing systems, including manual processes. Which functionality is most crucial: Connectivity and interoperability with the hospital’s electronic medical record system? Seamless connection to computer systems in physician offices? Accurate and efficient billings? Attractive multi-color reports with gross and microscopic pictures? Web access to your lab data from multiple locations? High levels of security to safeguard patient confidentiality? Industry-standard software architecture? A proven track record? The list goes on.

Laboratories should make a wish list, in order of priority, of their requirements. Using this list, you can determine which vendors or systems best match your lab’s needs.

If you are seeking a system for a multi-specialty group practice laboratory, clinic, or physician office lab, perhaps you should consider those vendors who were born in that environment, such as Orchard Software, Antek, and Schuyler House. On the other hand, if you are seeking support for a high-volume community commercial lab, perhaps you should consider vendors who got their start in that domain, such as Antrim (whose product is now marketed by Misys as Commercial Lab) or Seacoast Laboratory Data Systems. (Seacoast declined to participate in this year’s CAPTODAYLISsurvey.)

If you need to support a lab that processes 5,000 or more specimens per day, don’t choose a system that is installed only in facilities processing fewer than 100 specimens per day. Conversely, the complexities that must be built into a system for handling 5,000 or more specimens per day may overwhelm the system management staff of a small laboratory.

Keep in mind that you are entering into a long-term business relationship with a vendor. Your level of comfort with them as a business partner is just as important as the specifics of their products’ functionality.

Pages 56-80 feature 44 laboratory information systems from 37 vendors. The survey is based on vendor responses to a CAPTODAYquestionnaire. Anyone interested in purchasing an LISshould seek more detailed information, particularly from vendors who make general or vague claims. (Please note that Intellidata has been purchased by Impac Medical Systems and is listed as Impac in this year’s lineup.)

In keeping with this month’s laboratory information systems focus, the "Newsbytes" column (page 108) reports on the KLAS user-satisfaction survey of LISvendors. While the KLAS survey is a useful guide, note that it focuses on only a handful of the many excellent vendors in the marketplace.

Again, there is no single "best" LIS. Labs need to prioritize their information system desires and research the marketplace to determine which vendors best address their top needs and wants.

Dr. Aller is based in Vista, Calif., and can be reached at raller@earthlink.net.